6 Jun 2014

Conservative car crash in Newark

Around 10 o’clock this morning, whom did I spot in a car-park in the centre of Newark, but Patrick Mercer, the former Tory MP who stood down, and thereby caused yesterday’s by-election, after being strongly criticised by a Commons committee.

What did he think of the result? Mr Mercer claimed not to know what the result was. “Who won?” He asked. “Ukip?”

When I explained that the Tories had secured a majority of 7,403. Mr Mercer described it as “handsome”, though I couldn’t detect much pleasure or joy in his reaction.

I beckoned our cameraman, who had been parking his car, to come and film me questioning Mr Mercer. When the former MP spotted our camera, he quickly jumped into his small car and drove off, scraping the side of his vehicle against the adjacent car. Mr Mercer didn’t stop at first, and drove about a 50 yards down the car park before then coming to a halt.


Two Jehovah’s Witnesses standing nearby had, er, witnessed proceedings.

“It wasn’t cricket,” for Mr Mercer not to return straight away, said  Keith Toyne.

“It was a bit reckless the way he sped off.”

Mr Mercer did come back to inspect the damage, and left a small note with his mobile phone number.

Ten minutes later the owners of the car came back. How had they voted yesterday? The woman wouldn’t say. Another witness to the incident said he’d voted Ukip. This, he said, was after 30 years of voting Conservative.

Including, of course, for Patrick Mercer.

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